These days your tour website is your greatest asset. It’s where most people will find you, book you and refer you. However, for many this is not the case. Their website generates too little traffic, doesn’t show up in search engines and doesn’t change for years. Unfortunately there are too many zombie tour and activity websites out there not treated with the care and respect they are due.
Why do people have such poorly performing websites?
Generally there are two camps:
- Those that don’t really know what they’re doing, and
- Those that just don’t really care
I know it sounds crazy in this day and age when greater than 50% of searches come on mobile devices but it is not uncommon to hear comments like:
“We don’t think that our website is that important.”
Or despite a clearly underperforming site:
“But I like the way my current site looks.”
This is like saying:
“I really don’t care that I’m losing large amounts of bookings, that my business is struggling against the competition – I’m happy enough the way I am.”
Is this you?
If it is, I’m sorry but WAKE UP and get into the 21st century. The majority of people will look to find you online, if they can’t they will either go to a competitor or wait to book you when they get to their destination and then you are just one other thing to do in the noise of everything else.
Partnerships with hostels and hotel concierges can help mitigate this, but why give away commissions for customers that could be rightfully yours if you just put in some sweat and spend a small bit of money on getting your website right.
The simplest route to setting up a website is to go with a free or very cheap website builder such as Square Space, Wix or Weebly. These services get you online fast but typically the themes are not setup for a tour and activity business and don’t help your customer find the information they need to ultimately book your tour. The premium versions might have this, but as you add features it gets more confusing about what to do and as these services have thousands of customers support can be patchy.
The next route is typically to find a local web developer to do the job for you. What do you know about websites, right? This passes the buck to them and you can be happy you have a professional website. Well…This is generally not the case. What usually happens is that the developer takes their cues from you, so if you don’t know what should be on the website then its a good chance they won’t either. This is particularly true if they work with numerous clients and aren’t travel specific. It is unlikely they will know what your website SHOULD look like. And why would they? You are paying them a fixed price, it’s not their job to make sure the website performs after they hand it over to you.
We’ve also noticed that a lot of local web design companies also maintain they can offer booking and payment solutions to their clients. Be warned booking systems are complicated cutting an e-commerce shopping cart into one is unlikely to end well. Yes, it might sound like you’re killing two birds with the one stone but just like a cheap website doesn’t usually lead to success, either does taking short cuts on your booking solution.
Routes to succeed
We’re great believers in educating yourself. As the business owner or manager you care more about your tour business than any web or marketing agency. Learning WordPress is a great start and this gives you the power to manage the content yourself. There are also some great travel templates available for as little as $10 to make sure you’re website is set up correctly for your user base.
Now, we know it can still be a bit daunting to do everything yourself and that’s why we recommend Tourismtiger. Tourismtiger offer websites tailor made for tour and activity providers. They’ll advise you on the template you should use for your business, help with implementing the content and even manage any changes you require in the future. They also work very well with your booking provider. We asked CEO, Matthew Newton, why basic website builders are not the right choice for you tour or activity business:
“Standard website builders are fraught with all kinds of problems. If you only had to design for desktop, it might not be a bad idea, but I constantly see websites built with popular softwares that have broken elements on mobile which make the site difficult to navigate. Then when you take into account that you have to optimize your site for sales without any expertise, it turns out to to be a very expensive way to save a few hundred dollars.”
Website optimised now what…
It’s important to remember that once you have a website that you need to track activity levels and be responsible for its performance. Honestly, no-one else will do this for you. Also Google regularly changes their search algorithm, for instance Google recently prioritised websites that are mobile optimised. If your website is more than three years old, chances are it isn’t mobile optimised.
The best way to track how you are performing is to educate yourself on two Google tools:
Google Analytics gives you data on traffic to your site, where it came from, what device they were using, bounce rates etc. Whereas Google Webmaster Tools tells you more about how people found you such as: search terms, most popular pages, numbers of impressions. It also tells you if Google is having problems indexing or finding you, so it is a vital health check on the status of your website.
If you are using a third party to integrate these tools, insist on having them place Google analytics tracking code on the pages of your website and sign you up for Google Webmaster Tools. You will then be able to log in and see the traffic levels for your website.
You need to start with some metrics you can easily track, so that you can work on improving them over time and as your knowledge builds you can increase the complexity of what you measure.
We recommend starting with your:
- Monthly traffic – your aim should be to grow this month on month and if that isn’t happening then why isn’t it happening?
- Bounce rate – this is an indication of how useful or clear the content on your website is, if your bounce rate is high it’s a sign that people can’t find what they’re looking for or you are attracting visitors that are completely unrelated to what you are selling (VERY BAD if you are using adwords).
- Time people spend on the site – again it’s a good indication of how engaging the content is – bland descriptions of your tour are unlikely to cut it here.
- The number of pages visited – Can people easily navigate your site, are they exiting on one particular page – indicating they got lost on your site?
Once you have these numbers down you can then start to look at your conversion rate. This requires you to set up goals, such as:
- Clicking a “Book Now” button
- Brochure Downloads, or
- Submitting a contact form
Once you have a handle in this it should be pretty clear to you where you need to make changes or optimisations. You will have taken control of your marketing strategy and should be empowered to make strategic decisions backed up by data. This is powerful. I’m pretty sure you’ll then see the benefit of converting users directly on your website via online booking software.